The official 60 ECTS Master of International Cooperation Sustainable Emergency Architecture is a one-year MSc degree that prepares architects and professionals from the built environment to develop and rebuild communities affected by rapid urbanization, poverty, conflict and natural disasters. The program forms part of the Erasmus Mundus European Cooperation Program and is located in Barcelona at the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC).
Delving into three main topics: international cooperation, sustainable development, and emergency architecture, the program includes courses with a multidisciplinary approach to urban and architectural strategies that promote social cohesion. Students will acquire the proper skills to develop a critical analysis and management capacity of complex problems in a variety of contexts, learn to maximize human resources to support local actors in post-disaster scenarios and tackle urban upgrading strategies in both developed and developing countries. Students will also obtain a certificate from our partner organization IFRC.
Our program is an official, one-year Master but is also part of the two-year Mundus Urbano program, which has a separate admission process. For info about this program, visit the webpage.
This is a full-time course and attendance is mandatory. Students will have classes from 10am-5pm Monday through Thursday, while Fridays are dedicated to thesis development and writing workshops. You cannot work while studying nor take the courses part-time. The courses run from Sept through February, Thesis development starts from the beginning and ends in May with the final thesis presentation, and the internship period is from June through August.
All of the courses are mandatory for the completion of the degree. We do not transfer/validate credits from previous studies. The course is divided into five modules: Emergency Shelter and Settlements, Urban Governance and Community Design, Socio-Spatial Strategies, Master’s Thesis, and Internship.
We do not teach you to design or use CAD programs in the course.
MODULE 1: Emergency Shelter and Settlements
This module provides the students with an introduction to the theoretical background, conceptual framework, basic knowledge and abilities to properly assimilate the specialized content of the Master’s program. It establishes the theoretical background and tools for the analysis and communication of international cooperation projects and emergency architecture in post conflict and post disaster situations. The student will delve into the broad context, the mainstream and critical perspective of each topic. In order to do so, the course provides them with relevant bibliography and theoretical classes from diverse practitioners working with leading humanitarian agencies and NGO’s in post disaster and post conflict situations such as the International Federation Red Cross (IFRC) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The course offers the necessary link between theory and practice in order to understand and offer sustainable solutions for these complex situations. The course intends to help the students develop their own critical perspective and analysis on the topic of Emergency situations from settlement to shelter solutions.
MODULE 2: Urban Governance and Community Design
This course completes the program’s content. Through the two other courses, the student has acquired a methodological approach to analyse and intervene in human settlements and housing projects in complex social and physical sites in developing and developed contexts, therefore, it seems right that in this course they learn from significant episodes or relevant case studies from different topic oriented strategies in: post-disaster, emergency architecture, risk management, regularization, urban upgrading and sustainable development projects in international cooperation. The objective is that the student through these diverse workshops can identify the main characteristics and intervention mechanisms involved in contemporary cooperation projects, as well as the main public, private or mixed agents involved. Participatory and management issues are discussed along with alternative planning tools and regularization strategies in the international cooperation and development scene.
MODULE 3: Socio-Spatial Strategies
This module provides the student with the necessary methodological foundation in order to intervene with a holistic and interdisciplinary vision in international cooperation projects at an urban and architectural scale. The program’s inter-scalar approach strives to build alternative upgrading, regulatory and development strategies both at an urban and building scale. The methodologies will also focus on building technologies that incorporate mixed use programs with techniques and materials derived from local cultures. The students are introduced to and apply a method through case studies of how to tackle post catastrophe and regenerative situations in developing countries.
Besides theoretical and methodological classes, the course builds on comparative case study analysis and interventions through a workshop format. The students will compare and work on two studios at two different scales: urban and architectural in Barcelona. At an architectural scale, the workshop offers students a ‘hands on’ approach to experimenting and building low technology solutions, preparing students towards alternative constructive solutions applicable in developing contexts. The workshop offers the development of real scale constructive details and techniques.
On the other hand, the urban scale workshop in Barcelona delves on working in neighborhoods with social and conflictive spatial situations which call for alternative methodologies which go beyond the standard planning or spatial solutions. The main objective is to offer the students the exploration of alternative socio-spatial tools that combine bottom-up participatory mapping and surveying with technical urban design methods that enhance culture and identity.
The Master’s thesis is a written research paper that you will develop throughout the course with the help of our Writing Workshop course and one-on-one thesis supervision. It is important for professionals in this field to conduct academic research, develop a critical perspective and improve your ability to write, communicate, and make proposals to improving urban development and emergency practices. Students complete a literature review, use a case study, and complete an assessment from which to base their proposals and conclusions. The thesis can be either a project-based proposal thesis or a more theoretical thesis. Students will defend their thesis before a final jury in May comprised of faculty members and a special guest juror. Afterwards, you can discuss possibilities of publishing your thesis as an article with your thesis supervisors.
The master thesis must be developed under the umbrella of one of the following research lines:
- Community and Urban Resilience, Sustainability Transitions
- Public Space, Urban Memory and Place Making
- Post-Emergency Community Resilience
- Inclusive Urban Refugee Integration
- Comprehensive Reconstruction and Upgrading of Neighbourhoods
- Cooperation and the Migration – Development Nexus
- Political Ecology – Environmental Justice
- Heritage and Cultural Landscapes
- Gender in development scenarios
The internship is an important part of your learning experience in the Master and an opportunity to branch into a new field. It is a mandatory, 3-month internship at the end of the course, from June through August. We have agreements with approximately 30 organizations our students have interned with in the past, in all areas of development and emergency including international institutions such as UN Habitat, GWOPA, and MSF, as well as smaller scale NGOs, and research institutions such as BCNUEJ. Students are responsible for finding an internship. The Masters team will assist in the application process by coordinating the applications to the institutions on our list and giving guidance and academic support, however we cannot guarantee placement within these organizations. The internship does not have to be related to your thesis topic. Students finish and defend their thesis before beginning the internship.
You can see a drop-down list of some of our collaborating institutions in the “Field Trip & Internship” section of our Program page.
The field of international development and emergency is very vast and our students go on to work on many different types of institutions. Many work for NGOs doing various tasks, not necessarily just architectural and urban planning projects, but also management, coordination, strategic planning and design, policy making, etc. These are skills and areas of expertise that we believe professionals from the built environment need to have when working in international development.
They also go on to work at:
- Urban planning institutions
- Research hubs/institutions and universities (either as researchers or PhD students)
- Start their own architecture or consultancy NGOs
- Continue to teach after their PhD
The different topics you can specialize in are vast as well. These include City Resilience and Disaster Preparedness, Low-Cost building techniques, Water and Sanitation, Participatory Mapping and GIS, Migration and Diaspora studies, Refugee Camp planning, Social Housing Upgrading, Gender Issues in Development, Slum upgrading strategies, Food Security, Water Politics, Hospital Planning in Refugee Camps, etc.
A few students each year go on to do a PhD. Students from our program are well prepared for Doctorate research and go on to universities around the world or research hubs.
Candidates for the Master must hold an official Bachelor’s Degree of 4-5 years in a relevant field. The program is aimed at graduates from the following areas: Architecture, Urban Planning, Urban Design, Engineering, Environmental Design, and Geography.
Note: in the European system, this cannot count as your graduate Masters in your fourth or fifth year of studies. This is a post-graduate Masters and you need to finish a 5-year program before you can enroll in this Master program.
English levels minimum:
B2/First Certificate in English (FCE)
Trinity Grades 7, 8, 9
If you are a native English speaker or have attended school in English, certifications will not be necessary.
Work experience: it is not required but preference is given to candidates with experience in related fields.
The application period will open in November for the following academic year. We will review the candidates in three separate Admissions Calls throughout the year, reviewing only the candidates who’ve submitted their complete application files before the deadline. Due to the high demand and competition, we recommend that you apply as soon as possible. If you are admitted, you have a 15-day period to make a deposit of 20% of the Masters Fee*.
If you are admitted, your place in the program is not guaranteed until you make the deposit. If the 15-day period has passed, you remain on the ‘’Waiting List’’, meaning that when you are able to make the payment, you must check first to see if there are any places.
*The remaining 80% of the tuition must be paid in September of the year your course begins.
Before coming to Spain, students may be required to apply for a student visa. Tourist or work visas are not valid for study in a Spanish university. Students are responsible for their visa applications, and UIC will provide support for any necessary letters from the university for the student. Admitted students will be provided the contact of a lawyer, expert in immigration and student visas, who provides consultation services to UIC students. We do not provide letters for the student’s dependents or relatives. You are responsible for checking the application processes and requirements specific to your nationality with your local Spanish Consulate or Embassy.
The university does not provide accommodation or accommodation services for students, students are responsible for finding their own accommodation.
Once you arrive in Barcelona, you may be required to apply for a NIE, an identification number for foreign residents. UIC will provide support through documents required from the university, but students are responsible for their own application process, including getting previous appointments online (cita previa).
The classroom is equipped with computers with the relevant programs for the students to use throughout the course. We do not have any laptop program requirements. Students will have access to the School of Architecture’s architectural model studio equipped with 3D printer, laser cutter, and other technologies.